Parshas Toldos from Yalkut Maamarei Emunah by Rabbi Gedalia Segal based on teachings of Rav Asher Freund


Derech Eretz

A person has to have respect for people that are greater than he is. There has to be a derecho eretz.  It brings him closer to Hashem. The fact that a person values a person who is bringing forth the will of Hashem shows that he has a certain respect in his relationship to the teachings of Hashem Himself. This midda of respect is a big midda and it has to be implanted into the youth.  A person who has respect for those who are greater than he is, it is a vessel to accept a mussar and a tochacha when someone gives him advice.  If someone tells him he is not doing something right, he becomes a vessel to receive the teachings. Without this respect, he cannot listen to it and receive the teachings. The respect for the teachers of the nation comes before Torah because a student that sits in front of a Rebbe with humility and fear then the Torah goes into his heart. Without this there is no hope for the person.  If a person does not have this respect he doesn’t have Torah or yiras shemayim.  And if the person shames the person that is a vessel that brings forth the will of the Creator he is shaming the worth of the creator because the creator is choosing this person to bring forth the will of Hashem.

The people that are removed from the Torah, the first thing to do, the people that left the religious observance, that they shame the people that believe in Hashem.  This is a sign to their relationship to the emunah in Hashem Himself. If they respect the people who believe in Hashem that is a different story.  They don’t have the respect and that draws them away in itself from Torah and Hashem.

When Avraham aveinu passed away, Yitzchok and Ishmael buried him.  First Yitzchok, then Ishmael.  Ishmael let Yitzchok go before him.  From this we learn that Ishmael did teshuva, that he had to respect Yitzchok who was younger than he, and that he was greater, a greater yiras shemayim, and be humble before him because he understood Yitzchok was greater.  Towards the end of Avraham’s days Ishmael reached the place of teshuva. And that made Avraham very glad, he felt so full. The reason for his feeling fulfilled was that Ishmael did teshuva  Ishmael came to this point close to 90 years old, all his children were settled.  He was not a wild man, a baal derech eretz.  This is the first midda that brings a person to teshuva, respect for people greater than you.  It is the first midda of teshuva.  That is what we find in this parsha. Lavan was Bethuel’s son and it says Laban was younger than his father and it says he was a rasha because he fought his father.  That is why he is called for this reason alone a rasha,  he did not have derech eretz.  It removes the ol malchus shemayim.  The first step is derech eretz for coming to teshuva and coming to the necessary relationships to the word of Hashem

The prayer for Yitzchok and Rivka

Their days were full of mitzvahs and everything was full of quality, avodas Hashem. These full days brought him to his place in the next world.  A person can be old but the days could be empty and therefore not his days, they just get lost.  They turned older the world when they prayed for children. Yitzchok put a lot of effort into the tefilla, begging and begging. Hashem listened to him.

Why did they have to daven so much?  It was like a gate of iron, so hard for the tefilla to be accepted.  They say that Avraham had to live 180 years, that is the amount of years Yitzchok lived, but there wer3 r years missing from Avraham’s life so he would not see Esav go off the derech.  When Yitzchok and Rivka were davening for children, they didn’t realize they were also praying to shorten Avraham’s life for this reason. Avraham died at 175.  One day in the life of Avraham was so close to Hashem He closed the heavens to their prayers.  Avraham spread emunah and made Hashem known.  Just like Dovid, Hashem says your Torah is more valuable than the sacrifices your son shlomo would give.  Dovid was so valuable to Hashem because each day is filled to the fullest and with holiness and respect for Hashem.

The name of the person is very important

The names of Esav and Yaakov show their effort.  Esav was complete, he had full amount of hair, he looked much older when born.  He didn’t look like a baby when he was born.  An ox that is one day old, even a calf is already called an ox.  A person that is an adom, he reaches what he has to reach, his goal.  A person when he is born cannot be complete like Esav when he is born.  He has to grow and grow, to go up step by step to become complete.  A person who learns Torah starts young and goes to old age and understands more and more every day.  Older talmide chochomim keep growing, their knowledge and they themselves keep on going. There is no limit to how much you can develop.  Even if a person lved as long as meshupelech and did not learn a second from learning Torah, the Torah is wide and deep without boundaries.  The Gra could learn one Mishna with so many secrets hidden in it.  The chason ish learned the first Mishna forty times.  This is how a person keeps on growing day by day, hour by hour and when he is born he has a life of growth ahead of him.  He is not a person until he reaches his potential.  It is not the same with animals or people who live like animals. They find themselves complete when born. They are not interested in fixing their middos.  When born they call him an ox, he doesn’t need to grow or change.  A person who lives like an ox like Esav.  Yaakov is from the heel. From the heel every day he rises step by step rung by rung on the ladder and with the mila of the Torah he keeps changing in his Torah and character attributes. 

When Yaakov was battling Esav’s angel he was fighting his yetzer that tries to trip him up all the time. Yaakov goes mila to mila, and that is what their names show. One is a life of growth and change and perfection and the other says I am fine, everything is good with me. That is the difference in their names and their perspectives on life.

Esav and Yaakov within ourselves.

Every person has that Esav and Yaakov, the tuma and holiness. These are two parts of a person and these two powers want to make the person go to its side.  The kedusha wants the person and the impurities want the person.  The yetzer of a person is there from his early childhood and at 13 the yetzer tov comes and starts the fight between the two.  When Rivka was pregnant, the children were kicking inside her and when she would pass a place of impurity Esav tried to go out and when she went by the beis medrash Yaakov tried to get out.  A person can learn Torah and pray but still do aveiros whether they are big or small. We have free will. A person cannot believe in himself til the day of death.  He can change from bad to good or good to bad. There are no guarantees. The deeds of these impurities of Esav and the holiness of Yaakov are day by day and hour by hour, we try to win the war.  A person could learn the Torah of Hashem and chas vshalom spill blood and do everything wrong.  Rivka got calmed down when she heard that two different nations will come from her, one for evil and one for holiness. There will separate, a holy nation and an impure nation, they won’t be mixed. This nevua given to her brought her peace. Even though the pure and impure are mixed up our whole lives in fighting each other, because sometimes Esav can dress up like Yaakov saying all types of Torah, but still it is Esav within, the impurities.  We have to run away from this.  The main thing is that you have to run away, to know this hiparadu, two nations, separate.. in order to save yourself from this battle, a person should not get mixed up and be friends with our impurities,  and from impure people, to not get involved with that.  And then it will make it easier to win his own private war and be leaning and going towards the side of holiness and not impurity.  The key thing that made her feel better is that they will be separate and not mix with each other, guaranteeing that the person who wants holiness will remain so.

To be far away and not to be close, when they were inside her, she went to the bais medrash of shem and aver.  Yaakov, the holiness that is actually in the upper realms, and Esav is weak, and if not, when Yaakov is weak then Esav gets elevated. There can’t be closeness or Esav will be on top, for Esav is the symbol of impurities and desires that come with a person when born, like an animal.  Yaakov is a person who worked on himself and tried to break the kelipos.  A person has to fight the Esav in himself. A person tries to come close to Esav and fight him, it becomes very dangerous.  When Esav is on the outside, then it is easier when you are not together.  Within her, when it says they were kicking inside, they were close to each other. When they were born, don’t worry, they will separate, it will not be like that and when they separate and are not together, Yaakov will be able to win.  Don’t get too close to the Esav.

Raising children

Yitzchak loved Esav.  We can learn how to raise our children.  We know that the parents have to teach the children what to do. We have to tell them if they are doing something wrong.  Maybe when we tell them what to do the child will feel badly. Maybe it will make a change.  Sometimes it could be the child doesn’t listen to the parent but Esav, his father never caught him doing anything wrong. If Yitzchok would have known he would have given him mussar but Esav never gave opportunity because Esav kept asking about mitzvhas.  And that is why what happened to him happened to him.  Esav did the melachos. He did the mitzvahs of kivud av vaym but he also wanted to fool his father into thinking he is a Talmud.  He grew up without mussar. That is why Esav became Esav.

Another thing we can learn from how Yitzchok acted is we have to think about the deeds of our holy fathers, how to act, and we can learn from the wells and Avimelech.  Avimelech chased yitzhok from his town because he was jealous, and Yitzchok left and went to one place and when the people fought with him he just left.  The next place, the people also bothered him and he didn’t say anything that they stole from him and he left again. Then he went to a third place and they didn’t fight and Yitzchak realized Hashm helped me now He sent salvation and I am saved and the reason I am saved now and not then is that this is the right time.  So here we should see how a person should act, anything upsetting or disturbing to him.  We see that Yitzchak meant when he picked the names, he knew what happened to him were what was going to happen to his children in the future and Hashem is going to give them the Torah.  The deeds of the fathers is something we can learn fro . everything is symbolized in Torah.  Whatever happens, a person should not feel depressed. He should strengthen emunah in the Gd of his fathers and that Hashem will help in the merit of the avos.  This is a midda of patience.  What can we learn from avimelech about patience, to not get angry, accept gam zu letova. Here is a story.

There was a rich person who went to live in a town and the people were jealous of him and they were not happy he was dwelling with them and they complained and the leader told the man to leave that he was too successful.  So he left and went to another place and the people of the city were evil and they also rose up against him and they stole from him. Again he tried again and he was successful and the people were jealous and stole again.  It kept happening, this pattern, until the people that were jealous of him realized Hashem is with this person and they left him alone. The ruler came to make a peace treaty.  The person said you made me a lot of trouble and chased me out of your city, and the ruler said we want to live with you in peace you are very successful.  Just promise us that you won’t make us any problem.  We would think the merchant would reject them but he controlled his middos and accepted it and said he would make a party and promised the ruler everything and left with great friendship and love

The same with avimelech. Yitzchok didn’t complain or respond with hatred. He made a party and a treaty with them.  We can learn how to act with people even if they are evil and jealous people, and their jealousy hurts us, we have to control our own spirit and not give back bad for bad, to always be good to anybody that is created within the tzelem elokim a person has to respond with goodness.

Every person has a tzelem elokim, we should have patience, even people who disturb us, that is the way of the Torah.

Kivud av shel Esav

Esav excelled in kivud av. No one compared to him.  It says if a person respects his parents, fortunate Is a person that gives birth to such a child. To be a tzaddik and a chossid was more than Esav could do. He has a yetzer to kill.  He could not overcome that.  But he fooled his father because Yitzchok was blind and Esav could hide all his deeds and he appeared to be a tzaddik because he would ask shailas like how do you give maiser from straw.  That is how he dealt with the kivud av .  His father was happy with him and he could do whatever he wanted because he hid his deeds from him.  Esav lost from this, not Yitzchok.  Esav destroyed himself but his father did not have that sorrow and because of this his zchar will be repaid but he lost his olam haba.  A lot of times it happens that the son is not acting properly and the person doesn’t tell the father because he does not want to cause him pain.  But the son might be losing olam haba and if the father knew he could help him to not sink to such levels. Nevertheless the Torah wanted to teach us to understand the greatness of kivud av veim of Esav.  It is not necessarily the right thing to do because he hid it so the father would not get upset, but the Torah teaches us about the greatness of the kivud av vaim of Esav

The bracha Yitzchak gives to Yaakov, dovid saysi in tehillim that closeness to Hshem is what is good. How do we get close to Hashem?  By requesting things.  If he gives us hour hearts desires, we thank Him.  A child asks for more.  Even when a child gets bigger, he doesn’t need him so much, but to the Jewish people the children of Hashem, it is not the same because they need from Hashem their whole life, til the last breath. Everything is a chesed and a request and a thanks are always in unison and the thanks for every breath that a person takes, that Hashem should give him more things, this in itself brings hm closer to the Creator.  The will of the people who fear Him Hashem does.  If Hashem fulfills their desires why does a person scream more?  If they fear Him they know they only receive from Hashem. That is why it is like a son that recognizes only his father can help him so he screams to Him and he never forgets his father.  He always screams to his father and fulfills all the request. When we fear Hashem we are like a nursing infant in the arms of the mother. Hashem gives it to us. Hashem always gives and gives again.  We ask for all our needs and then He gives and we ask and He gives us more.

The needs get renewed minute to minute and hour to hour. Every minute of our lives is a conversation with Hashem and this is the way to get to really fulfil the whole reason we are here, to get that closeness and attachment to Hashem, of acting and thanking and getting close to Hashemm the only one who can do anything for you.

The brachas of Yitzchak and Yaakov

WE can’t understand Yitzchak that he wanted to give more to Esav than Yaakov but Esav was someone who tried to fool his father and he was successful.  He presented himself as a yiras shemayim by asking questions on maiser, but how was Yaakov less than him, he was learning all day and had yiras shemayim.  So how could it be that Yitzchak wanted to take away from such a holy child.  You have to understand that Yitzchok looked at Esav and understood them and his heart is full of yira. Yaakov looked like he was sitting there in Torah but looked like an ish tam, a simple person. Maybe if he goes out into the world he would be different and he won’t be able to stand up to the situation like Esav. That is why he wanted to give Esav the brachas. But when Yaakov came in and he got the brachas of his father Yitzchak saw that Yaakov came with slyness so I se he knows the ways of the world and he knows how to go about things in a smart way to get what is coming to him, to get what he feels he wants to take that are not coming to him.  He is learning Torah because he does not want to be involved with the world but I see he is worthy and is the one to give it over to the generation.  He saw that it was given right.  At first he was thinking wrong.  And that how it worked out was good.  It is okay the way Yitzchak thought.  Rabbi levi said that Yitzchak was afraid that maybe he did the wrong thing, making a person not the bechor a bechor.  Yitzchak at first thought he did not do the right thing in giving the blessings to yaakov but once he recognized Yaakov understood the ways of the world and is still learning, then the brachs should comd to him.  He is not naïve sitting in Torah tents without knowing what is going on in the world.  Yaakov had an understanding but did not go out there so as not to get mixed up in all those things.   And he understood he did not make a mistake.

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